Beloved Pilgrim

on Jan 09, 2014 by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Excerpt from BELOVED PILGRIM by Christopher Hawthorne Moss, release date January 23, 2014, from Harmony Ink Press

Beloved Pilgrim

Christopher Hawthorne Moss wrote an earlier edition of this novel under his former name, Nan Hawthorne.  As Nan put it, “I want to write a female character I can finally relate to.”  The irony of statement is that writing this novel about a woman knight was one of the most profound elements in a personal journey that led Nan to recognize that s/he is transgender.  To coin a phrase, the sort of female character s/he could relate to was really a man down deep.  Christopher Hawthorne Moss is that man, with 60 years of pretending to be a woman to himself and the world to readjust.  That is why he decided to take the novel and make it about a woman who realizes she is a man and is given the opportunity to live as one, a rare blessing in the Middle Ages or any time.

In this excerpt, Elisabeth and her squire Albrecht have just fought off an ambush as they journey to escape threats to their lives back at home in Bavaria.  Her first kill leads her to recognize a profound truth in herself, a long-held conviction that she is in fact not a woman but a man.  As she prepares to join the ill-fated Crusade of 1101 she takes the name Elias and determines to be everything a man should be.

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Excerpt

Chapter 5

As they returned to the road, she realized she still had her sword in her hand. She raised it to sheath it and saw the blood.

Seeing her tremble, Albrecht snapped, “Here!”

Startled, she looked over to see that he had tossed her his neck kerchief. She snatched it out of the air.

“Clean your sword,” he said.

The kerchief was clotted with blood and worse already, but she wiped away as much as she could before sheathing her sword.

He chided her as she returned the bloody kerchief to him. “And you wanted to kill Paynim? Good thing you were never really serious.”

She turned to watch as he prepared to go on with their journey.  Not serious? she thought.  Is he right?  Do I have any idea why I am here?  Or where I am going?

Elisabeth grew silent as they continued on the road.  The killing of the brigand had shaken her, but not the way she thought it might have.  She realized as they rode that she had not hesitated to fight, to raise a real sword and intend to kill.  She tried to tell herself it was simple practicality, that in such dire circumstances anyone, and more to the point, any woman would do the same if her life was at stake.  But no, that was not necessarily true and besides that was not what struck her now.  She had not risen to the occasion.  She had been ready for it.  It felt natural to her, if not exactly pleasant.  A girl would not feel this way, she thought.  

Elisabeth reflected on all the times she had felt wrong in her own body.  Did I ever accept my lot as a girl?  I can’t remember a single instance when I was not chafing at my skirts, wanting to run and climb trees and be loud.  When I was little I was often punished for taking off my skirts and running around in a tunic and my hose, just like Elias dressed.  And how I fretted over the restrictions Mother tried to place on my behavior.  The only way I got through it was the freedom Mother’s illnesses gave me.

She recalled a time, when the twins were small, that Elias had flatly refused to believe when a servant told him Elisabeth was not his brother.  They had grown so similar in every way that the two regarded the anatomical differences as mere individuality, not of any significance.  In fact, Elias had taught her how to pee standing up.  She made a mess of it every time, but so what?  She was better at some things, and he at others.  After his hot denial of her girlhood, Elisabeth  noticed her brother spent a fair amount of time looking at her and then at village girls, seeming puzzled that his sister in no way behaved like even the most boisterous of the girls.

Marta constantly lectured her about being more “ladylike”.  She told her that it was all very well to be a girl who liked boy things, but as she grew up she would find other interests, other pursuits, and ultimately would want to attract a man, not be one.  But that never happened, she now realized.  If I never wanted to be a girl, might it be that I am somehow not one?”

Wearing these clothes, this armor, relaxing and swearing, and then acting on the need to kill, they all feel right.  In fact over the past days, I have never felt more genuine; more right in my own skin, more me. 

The feeling was so strong, so clear, that Elisabeth did not even try to puzzle out how it could be, how she could have a woman’s body but know in her core she… no, he was a man.  It felt true, truer than anything else she ever had felt. 

What path could Elisabeth possibly follow seemed clear at this juncture.  It was a gift, this quest, this opportunity, a chance to be the man I always knew I was to be.

They found themselves where a small pier jutted out into the flow of a huge river. “The Danube?” Elisabeth asked.

“Yes,” Albrecht said. “Almost there.”

She gave him an odd look, but did not say any more until the light had gone and they were ready to roll up in their cloaks and sleep by their campfire.

“Albrecht, I have to tell you something,” she began.

He stopped trying to get comfortable on the ground and looked up expectantly. “My lord?”

Hesitantly, she continued. “I want to keep going.” He did not interrupt, so she went on. “I love this. I love the freedom, the adventure, and the independence, even the fighting. I don’t want to be a woman anymore. I want to be a man.”

Albrecht sat up and wrapped his arms around his bent knees, his eyes focused on Elisabeth. “I don’t understand.”

She looked up and straight into his face. “I think you do understand.”

He considered and then asked, “Are you saying you want to persist in the masquerade? To try to live your life as a man, a fake one?”

“No. I want to be a man. I can’t explain it, not really, but I think I am a man.” She ground her teeth, squared her jaw, and asserted, “I am a man.”

At his confused look, the man once called Elisabeth, who tried to impress his conviction to that brother’s lover. “Albrecht, maybe I can explain it better later, but all I can say now is that I have never felt like a girl. I always felt like a boy. I think someone made a mistake when they gave me a girl’s body. Right here, inside, I am a boy, a man.” His hand was on his chest, over his heart. Now he looked full into Albrecht’s eyes. “I told Elias about this before he… died. He called me brother.”

Albrecht sat silent for a moment, then nodded. “And now you are, who? Elias?”

Elisabeth—Elias— shrugged. “Why not?  It would honor him to take his name.   I want more.   I want to stay a knight. I want to go to the Holy Land. I want to do what my brother was to do. I want to fight Paynim and to make it to Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.” He looked down and plucked at the crusader’s cloak he wore. “I want this to mean something, to be real.” The man Elias glanced up, then firmed his jaw and said in a stern voice, “I don’t just want that. I am going to do that.” His voice softened. “And I want you to go with me, to be my squire.”

Albrecht gazed at him for some time. He suddenly got to his feet and bowed to him where he sat on the ground. “My lord, I would be honored to continue to be your squire.”

The new Elias jumped up, and they locked arms. His face was lit with anticipation, but at the same time with earnestness and anxiety. “Thank you, Albrecht,” he said breathlessly. Then he added, “Deus lo volt. God wills it.”

Albrecht grinned. “I just hope he knows that.”

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About Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Christopher Hawthorne Moss wrote his first short story when he was seven and has spent some of the happiest hours of his life fully involved with his colorful, passionate, and often humorous, characters. Moss spent some time away from fiction, writing content for websites before his first book came out under the name Nan Hawthorne in 1991. He has since become a novelist and is a prolific and popular blogger; he is the historical fiction editor for the GLBT Bookshelf, where you can find his short stories and thoughtful and expert book reviews. Moss is transgender, having been born with a female body but a male heart and mind. He lives full time as a gay man in the Pacific Northwest with his partner of over thirty years and their doted upon cats.

Excerpt from BELOVED PILGRIM by Christopher Hawthorne Moss, release date January 23, 2014, from Harmony Ink Press


Beloved Pilgrim

Christopher Hawthorne Moss wrote an earlier edition of this novel under his former name, Nan Hawthorne.  As Nan put it, “I want to write a female character I can finally relate to.”  The irony of statement is that writing this novel about a woman knight was one of the most profound elements in a personal journey that led Nan to recognize that s/he is transgender.  To coin a phrase, the sort of female character s/he could relate to was really a man down deep.  Christopher Hawthorne Moss is that man, with 60 years of pretending to be a woman to himself and the world to readjust.  That is why he decided to take the novel and make it about a woman who realizes she is a man and is given the opportunity to live as one, a rare blessing in the Middle Ages or any time.

In this excerpt, Elisabeth and her squire Albrecht have just fought off an ambush as they journey to escape threats to their lives back at home in Bavaria.  Her first kill leads her to recognize a profound truth in herself, a long-held conviction that she is in fact not a woman but a man.  As she prepares to join the ill-fated Crusade of 1101 she takes the name Elias and determines to be everything a man should be.


Excerpt from Beloved Pilgrim:

Chapter 5

As they returned to the road, she realized she still had her sword in her hand. She raised it to sheath it and saw the blood.

Seeing her tremble, Albrecht snapped, “Here!”

Startled, she looked over to see that he had tossed her his neck kerchief. She snatched it out of the air.

“Clean your sword,” he said.

The kerchief was clotted with blood and worse already, but she wiped away as much as she could before sheathing her sword.

He chided her as she returned the bloody kerchief to him. “And you wanted to kill Paynim? Good thing you were never really serious.”

She turned to watch as he prepared to go on with their journey.  Not serious? she thought.  Is he right?  Do I have any idea why I am here?  Or where I am going?

Elisabeth grew silent as they continued on the road.  The killing of the brigand had shaken her, but not the way she thought it might have.  She realized as they rode that she had not hesitated to fight, to raise a real sword and intend to kill.  She tried to tell herself it was simple practicality, that in such dire circumstances anyone, and more to the point, any woman would do the same if her life was at stake.  But no, that was not necessarily true and besides that was not what struck her now.  She had not risen to the occasion.  She had been ready for it.  It felt natural to her, if not exactly pleasant.  A girl would not feel this way, she thought.  

Elisabeth reflected on all the times she had felt wrong in her own body.  Did I ever accept my lot as a girl?  I can’t remember a single instance when I was not chafing at my skirts, wanting to run and climb trees and be loud.  When I was little I was often punished for taking off my skirts and running around in a tunic and my hose, just like Elias dressed.  And how I fretted over the restrictions Mother tried to place on my behavior.  The only way I got through it was the freedom Mother’s illnesses gave me.

She recalled a time, when the twins were small, that Elias had flatly refused to believe when a servant told him Elisabeth was not his brother.  They had grown so similar in every way that the two regarded the anatomical differences as mere individuality, not of any significance.  In fact, Elias had taught her how to pee standing up.  She made a mess of it every time, but so what?  She was better at some things, and he at others.  After his hot denial of her girlhood, Elisabeth  noticed her brother spent a fair amount of time looking at her and then at village girls, seeming puzzled that his sister in no way behaved like even the most boisterous of the girls.

Marta constantly lectured her about being more “ladylike”.  She told her that it was all very well to be a girl who liked boy things, but as she grew up she would find other interests, other pursuits, and ultimately would want to attract a man, not be one.  But that never happened, she now realized.  If I never wanted to be a girl, might it be that I am somehow not one?”

Wearing these clothes, this armor, relaxing and swearing, and then acting on the need to kill, they all feel right.  In fact over the past days, I have never felt more genuine; more right in my own skin, more me. 

The feeling was so strong, so clear, that Elisabeth did not even try to puzzle out how it could be, how she could have a woman’s body but know in her core she… no, he was a man.  It felt true, truer than anything else she ever had felt. 

What path could Elisabeth possibly follow seemed clear at this juncture.  It was a gift, this quest, this opportunity, a chance to be the man I always knew I was to be.

They found themselves where a small pier jutted out into the flow of a huge river. “The Danube?” Elisabeth asked.

“Yes,” Albrecht said. “Almost there.”

She gave him an odd look, but did not say any more until the light had gone and they were ready to roll up in their cloaks and sleep by their campfire.

“Albrecht, I have to tell you something,” she began.

He stopped trying to get comfortable on the ground and looked up expectantly. “My lord?”

Hesitantly, she continued. “I want to keep going.” He did not interrupt, so she went on. “I love this. I love the freedom, the adventure, and the independence, even the fighting. I don’t want to be a woman anymore. I want to be a man.”

Albrecht sat up and wrapped his arms around his bent knees, his eyes focused on Elisabeth. “I don’t understand.”

She looked up and straight into his face. “I think you do understand.”

He considered and then asked, “Are you saying you want to persist in the masquerade? To try to live your life as a man, a fake one?”

“No. I want to be a man. I can’t explain it, not really, but I think I am a man.” She ground her teeth, squared her jaw, and asserted, “I am a man.”

At his confused look, the man once called Elisabeth, who tried to impress his conviction to that brother’s lover. “Albrecht, maybe I can explain it better later, but all I can say now is that I have never felt like a girl. I always felt like a boy. I think someone made a mistake when they gave me a girl’s body. Right here, inside, I am a boy, a man.” His hand was on his chest, over his heart. Now he looked full into Albrecht’s eyes. “I told Elias about this before he… died. He called me brother.”

Albrecht sat silent for a moment, then nodded. “And now you are, who? Elias?”

Elisabeth—Elias— shrugged. “Why not?  It would honor him to take his name.   I want more.   I want to stay a knight. I want to go to the Holy Land. I want to do what my brother was to do. I want to fight Paynim and to make it to Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.” He looked down and plucked at the crusader’s cloak he wore. “I want this to mean something, to be real.” The man Elias glanced up, then firmed his jaw and said in a stern voice, “I don’t just want that. I am going to do that.” His voice softened. “And I want you to go with me, to be my squire.”

Albrecht gazed at him for some time. He suddenly got to his feet and bowed to him where he sat on the ground. “My lord, I would be honored to continue to be your squire.”

The new Elias jumped up, and they locked arms. His face was lit with anticipation, but at the same time with earnestness and anxiety. “Thank you, Albrecht,” he said breathlessly. Then he added, “Deus lo volt. God wills it.”

Albrecht grinned. “I just hope he knows that.”

Copyright © 2014 Christopher Hawthorne Moss. All rights reserved.


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About Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Christopher Hawthorne Moss wrote his first short story when he was seven and has spent some of the happiest hours of his life fully involved with his colorful, passionate, and often humorous, characters. Moss spent some time away from fiction, writing content for websites before his first book came out under the name Nan Hawthorne in 1991. He has since become a novelist and is a prolific and popular blogger; he is the historical fiction editor for the GLBT Bookshelf, where you can find his short stories and thoughtful and expert book reviews. Moss is transgender, having been born with a female body but a male heart and mind. He lives full time as a gay man in the Pacific Northwest with his partner of over thirty years and their doted upon cats.


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